A “Pandaversary Night time” celebration was thrown on Wednesday on the Chinese language embassy to the US to mark the fiftieth anniversary of big panda”s arriving within the US capital, and the Smithsonian’s Nationwide Zoo expects the “panda-monium” to increase for a number of extra years.
“Big pandas are worthy ambassadors. They’ve for much longer tenures than every of the Chinese language ambassadors right here, and so they have rather more followers than us,” Chinese language Ambassador to the US Qin Gang stated on the reception, to applause from an viewers of about 300 friends from each nations.
The friends watched The Miracle Cub, a documentary that celebrates not solely the second birthday of Xiao Qi Ji, or Little Miracle, the Smithsonian Nationwide Zoo’s latest big panda cub, but in addition 5 a long time of China-US cooperation in big panda safety and conservation.
The primary pair, Ling Ling and Hsing Hsing, debuted on the Zoo on April 20, 1972, weeks after then-US president Richard Nixon’s historic go to to China.
“Yr by yr, big pandas have grow to be an icon of mutual appreciation and friendship between the 2 peoples. Specifically, the arrival of Xiao Qi Ji two years in the past has introduced us a cheerful shock,” Qin stated.
He was referring to the cub’s delivery in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, coinciding with the deterioration of China-US bilateral relations to its lowest level in 4 a long time.
The ambassador famous that the variety of big pandas within the wild in China has elevated from a number of hundred 50 years in the past to greater than 1,800, which meant the species is now not “endangered”, due to unremitting efforts at safety and conservation.
“However sadly, ‘panda-huggers’ are endangered. Now they want safety and conservation,” he stated, in an obvious reference to China-US relations, with hawkish US politicians more and more looking for to “outcompete” China by seeing the nation as a challenger or perhaps a menace to the US.
Qin talked about that along with Xiao Qi Ji, a panda born within the US, Kung Fu Panda, one among his favourite motion pictures, was additionally made within the US.
“I nonetheless keep in mind a line from it: Yesterday is historical past, tomorrow is a thriller, however at present is a present, that’s the reason it is known as current!” he declared. “At current, we get collectively to cherish the great present of the panda. We want extra pandas, and we additionally want extra ‘panda-huggers’.”
Over the previous 50 years, big pandas have bonded US and Chinese language scientists and animal care consultants collectively to work on a shared purpose: saving the species from extinction.
Pat Nixon, the previous first woman of the US, predicted “panda-monium goes to interrupt out proper right here on the Zoo” in April 1972, when the Smithsonian’s Nationwide Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute obtained the items from China.
In February that yr, whereas visiting China with President Richard Nixon, the primary woman was captured admiring a panda on the Beijing Zoo on a chilly winter day.
Seated subsequent to Chinese language Premier Zhou Enlai at a dinner, she talked about her journey to the zoo and talked about her fondness for the pandas, in keeping with a video posted by the White Home Historic Affiliation.
Pat Nixon “screamed with pleasure” when she heard from Zhou that China would ship two pandas to the US, in keeping with the e-book Mao and Nixon: The Week that Modified the World, by Margaret MacMillan.
The primary pair of big pandas produced 5 cubs within the first 20 years, however none survived various days.
Xiao Qi Ji, now the celebrity on the Smithsonian Zoo, is the fourth surviving cub born on the zoo over the previous 5 a long time.
The arrival of Mei Xiang and Tian Tian in 2000 ushered in a brand new period of big panda breeding on the Zoo. Since 2005, Mei Xiang has given delivery to 4 surviving cubs: Tai Shan, Bao Bao, Bei Bei, and Xiao Qi Ji.
Three of the cubs have left for China to affix the bigger big panda breeding program. Solely Xiao Qi Ji lives together with his mother and father on the Zoo.
Below an extension settlement, signed between the Zoo and the China Wildlife and Conservation Affiliation, the large panda pair, Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, and their son Xiao Qi Ji, will keep on the Zoo by way of December subsequent yr.
“We do know that on the finish of that settlement that our pandas are anticipated to return to China,” Brandie Smith, director of the Nationwide Zoo, instructed China Each day at Wednesday’s reception.
“We now have had such an extremely profitable partnership, I am completely dedicated to 50 extra years of big panda care and success and celebration for all of our guests, so I sit up for working with our colleagues in China, as we’re decided concerning the future for our big panda program,” she stated.